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  1. ITV Report

Jo Brand apologises for ‘crass and ill-judged’ acid joke

Nigel Farage accused Jo Brand of inciting violence following comments she made during a BBC Radio 4 show. Credit: PA

Comedian Jo Brand has apologised for making a joke about throwing battery acid over politicians.

Her remarks on the BBC Radio 4 programme Heresy on Tuesday night led to public criticism, including from Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, and multiple complaints being made to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

On Thursday, the Metropolitan Police said they were assessing Brand’s comment following an allegation of incitement to violence.

Appearing at an event in Henley, Oxfordshire, on the same day, the comedian apologised for making a “crass and ill-judged” joke.

But she reportedly told the audience she did not think that she had made a “mistake”, adding that she had not mentioned Mr Farage.

In reply to a question about the state of UK politics, Brand had told the programme: “Well, yes, I would say that but that’s because certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate and I’m kind of thinking ‘Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?’

“That’s just me. I’m not going to do it, it’s purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do, sorry.”

On Wednesday, the Brexit Party leader, who had a milkshake thrown at him while campaigning in Newcastle, accused Brand of inciting violence, although he did not say who against.

Commenting again on Twitter, he said: “I am sick to death of overpaid, left-wing, so-called comedians on the BBC who think their view is morally superior.

“Can you imagine the reaction if I had said the same thing as Jo Brand?”

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The Press Association understands that the allegation reported to the police was not made by Mr Farage or the Brexit Party.

Ofcom said it has received 65 complaints about the episode of Heresy.

A statement from Scotland Yard said on Thursday: “Police have received an allegation of incitement to violence that was reported to the MPS on 13 June.

“The allegation relates to comments made on a radio programme. The allegation is currently being assessed.

“There have been no arrests and inquiries are ongoing.”

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May called on the BBC to explain why it broadcast Brand’s comments, saying that “violence and intimidation should not be normalised”.

The BBC said it regretted any offence caused by the radio programme, which was never intended “to encourage or condone violence”.

The corporation said comedy would “always push boundaries”, but added that it would edit the Heresy programme, which is hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell.

Heresy is a long-running comedy programme where, as the title implies and as our listeners know, panellists often say things which are deliberately provocative and go against societal norms but are not intended to be taken seriously.

We carefully considered the programme before broadcast. It was never intended to encourage or condone violence, and it does not do so, but we have noted the strong reaction to it.

Comedy will always push boundaries and will continue to do so, but on this occasion we have decided to edit the programme. We regret any offence we have caused.

– BBC Statement